They stand there at the gates, the thin mums,

the fat mums, the dad mums, the bad mums, chatting

about anything and nothing, comparing each

one with another, their child with hers, her clothes

with yours. When an outsider comes, a latecomer,

they smile. They are pleased. The latecomer is

different.

They can all look down on her and her

late-making child and speak

the evil words that bind them when

the latecomer cannot hear.

The children are herded, off-loaded, discarded, and the

mothers turn for home. Some light up, some vape, some

scurry forward, aiming their weaponised prams

at the undefended legs of strangers,

who dare not speak against a poor, harassed,

busy mother.

They head for home, to the cleaning and

cooking, the preening and preparing, the affairs,

the exercise and improvement of themselves,

or to nothing at all, not even hate.

They will return, later, to collect the child,

from the school gates where they themselves,

all those years ago,

abandoned hope

and entered.

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